Rigmor Galtung: – The worst thing I hear people say

Rigmor Galtung (54) became a household name when she became one of Norway’s first female stand-up comedians.

Many people know her from the comedy scene, where she became known for many celebrity impersonations. She has also shown commitment to more serious topics, such as mental health.

Among other things, she has been open about the fact that she has bipolar disorder and how it affects her.

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Met with prejudice

In several interviews, Galtung has been open about depression and admissions.

The 54-year-old tells Dagbladet that she has never experienced negative reactions to the openness. But she thinks people have had their prejudices.

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– It could rather be that you have encountered prejudice, that I is the disease. Because there are many people who do not know enough about it, she explains to Dagbladet.

– There was a period after the first time I had been really ill, when I was 32 years old. Then I was at the peak of my career, experienced a breakup and my first hospitalization. I think many, perhaps more at the time, thought: “Should we dare to let her stand on stage?”.

Regretted the breakup joke

The first time she opened up to the public about depression was to a journalist. The journalist turned on the recorder, and the comedian shared candidly about the diagnosis.

– She wrote a very nice story, “it was so terrible, but now everything is fine”. But then I said: “Don’t embellish it”. Go home and listen to it again. Write it as it is. It is unfair to those who are really sick and do not want to recognize themselves.

- Learning to live with it

– Learning to live with it

– Why do you choose to be so open?

– I do it because I believe that we, who are heard more than others, also have a duty. I think there is so much nonsense, says Galtung.

– Have you ever regretted something you shared?

Galtung bursts into a short, resounding laugh.

– I regretted it a little when things broke up between Ludvig’s father (Sønnen, journ.anm.) and me, that was before I got really sick.

She elaborates:

– He moved and I was just going to make fun of being abandoned. It sank like a stone.

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– They (friends in the audience, journ.anm.) came to me and said: “Rigmor, this is too early.” We feel so sorry for you.” It wasn’t meant for people to feel sorry for me.

She lets out another laugh.

– I could just as well just sit there and cry. You have to have some distance, you have to be able to step out and get a bit of a bird’s eye view, and then you can start talking about it and make humor about it.

Humor-Norway lay at her feet.  Then Rigmor Galtung was hospitalized with depression

Humor-Norway lay at her feet. Then Rigmor Galtung was hospitalized with depression

The worst question

– Do you always have a sense of humor? When you get a depression for example…

– Then it’s completely gone. I’m not humor 24/7. There are some who think that when you are a comedian, you are funny all the time. That you see humor everywhere.

– How will you be, then?

– I stop sleeping and eating, start thinking about catastrophes, don’t believe in myself or anything, everything is black, get a lot of fear, can have delusions and become paranoid. You notice when I’m bad, so to speak.

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When Galtung is depressed, his thoughts wander in a more philosophical and dark direction. However, she is rarely ill.

– “Are you in a good period?”. That’s the worst thing I hear people say. As a rule, I’m fine. If someone with diabetes has been hospitalized, “are you in a good period?”. You don’t say that about the whole person. So I can let myself be provoked a bit by that, she admits.

Precisely the fact that one is not, but has a diagnosis, is important for the 54-year-old to emphasize.

– You can get really sick from pneumonia then, but you are not the pneumonia. As little as I am my depressions. But the symptoms of my depression are very severe. But I’m pulling away, so I don’t think so. I am hospitalized or keep to myself more. I protect myself a lot, she says honestly.

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– May be necessary

Galtung explains that bipolar disorder is just a part of her, and not who she is.

– It’s something I have that can occasionally happen, like other people have an epileptic fit or diabetes. But because it’s in the psyche, in the head, it’s so easy to just see the diagnosis, or think “my God, she’s completely normal”. Yes, I’m not sick all the time. I am sick very rarely.

She specifically highlights humor as an important tool when life feels dark.

– My former psychiatrist told me: “humour is a stronger defense than repression”. So humor is extremely important when considering what is difficult. It says something about how important humor is in our lives. It can occasionally be absolutely necessary.

– Look at surgeons or people who stand with people’s fate in their hands every day, their humor is the worst. But they have to have it, otherwise they won’t survive.